As a forensic architect, I see a lot of building failures due to poorly installed brick veneer. While brick is an extremely durable and water-tolerant cladding material, it cannot overcome poor workmanship and poor detailing. It certainly is not waterproof, and care must be taken to protect the structure behind the veneer. Unfortunately, I don’t see this care on the projects I visit. (Of course, I wouldn’t be on a project if something wasn’t wrong.) Again and again I see the same mistakes made, many of which lead to very expensive callbacks.

In this article, I’ll share what I’ve learned in my forensic work, beginning with some of what doesn’t work. Seeing the results of doing things the wrong way helps to explain why the details I advocate as best practice are worth doing in the first place, even if they seem a bit excessive at first.

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